AUGUSTA, Ga. - A daily dose of whole body vibration may help reduce the usual bone density loss that occurs with age, Medical College of Georgia researchers report.
Twelve weeks of daily, 30-minute sessions in 18-month old male mice – which equate to 55- to 65-year-old humans – appear to forestall the expected annual loss that can result in fractures, disability and death. Dr. Karl H. Wenger, biomedical engineer in the MCG Schools of Graduate Studies and Medicine, reported the findings with his colleagues in the journal Bone.
Researchers found vibration improved density around the hip joint with a shift toward higher density in the femur, the long bone of the leg, as well. Hip fractures are a major cause of disability and death among the elderly.
They also found a reduction in a biomarker that indicates bone breakdown and an increase in the surface area involved in bone formation in the vibrating group.
Remember those vibration machines that fat people using to try to shake off the weight back in the 1960s or 1970s? I have only very faded recollections of what those belted vibrator machines were used for. Weight loss? Muscle toning? Well, maybe machines like them will make your bones stay stronger longer.
So I went poking around looking for those body vibration machines of yesteryear with the leather belts that wrap around your body and shake it. Couldn't find any of those kind. But I did find body vibration machines that appear to work from your feet up. They are touted for weight loss and massage. No mention of slowed bone aging. But that might be their biggest real benefit.
The vibrations are thought to stimulate activity by bone-building osteoblasts.
The findings provide more scientific evidence that the technique, which dates back to the 1800s and is now showing up in homes, gyms and rehabilitation clinics, has bone benefit, particularly as a low-risk option for injured individuals with limited mobility, Wenger said.
The scientists theorize that the rhythmic movement, which produces a sensation similar to that of a vibrating cell phone but on a larger scale, exercises cells so they work better. Vibration prompts movement of the cell nucleus, which is suspended by numerous threadlike fibers called filaments. "The filaments get all deformed like springs and then they spring back," Wenger said.
All the movement releases transcription factors that spur new osteoblasts, the cells that make bone. With age, the balance of bone production and destruction – by osteoclasts – tips to the loss side.
I like the idea that vibrations will help because it is such a lazy treatment. This report also claims vibrations really do help with weight loss and muscle strength. Who knew?
Update: A thought occurs to me: Motorcycles, ATVs, and other vehicles that have higher levels of vibrations could actually be good for you, Off-road driving in vehicles which do not much dampen the effects of uneven terrain could deliver real benefit to your bones.
Update II: Mthson reminds me of my October 2007 post: Vibrated Mice Form More Bone And Less Fat. Want your office chair to vibrate?
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